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Initiative could shut 2 Calif. nuke plants

SACRAMENTO, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- California's two nuclear power plants would be forced to shut down immediately under a ballot initiative proposed for next fall, a government report concluded.

The Los Angeles Times reports the non-partisan analysis found the shutdown of the San Onofre plant in northern San Diego County and Diablo Canyon plant in San Luis Obispo would cause rolling blackouts, higher electricity rates and billions of dollars in annual economic losses.

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The report, by the Legislative Analyst's Office, said the plants generate almost 16 percent of the state's electricity and are "integral parts of the state's electricity grid."

The Nuclear Waste Act of 2012 would forbid nuclear power generation in California until the federal government approves a permanent disposal site for high-level nuclear waste.

The initiative, proposed by activist Ben Davis Jr. of Santa Cruz, was approved for signature-gathering last week and needs 540,760 signatures by April 16 to qualify for the November 2012 ballot.

Since 1976, California has had a moratorium on new nuclear power plants but exempted the two facilities, which store nuclear waste on site.

If the initiative were enacted, the plants could not resume operation for years because no permanent nuclear waste disposal site exists in the United States, the report said.

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But the Times said the federal government could stop the law from taking effect to ensure access to electricity is uninterrupted.

Davis said he proposed the measure in response to the tsunami and radiation disaster at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex this year.

He termed the analyst's conclusions "very dire and very unrealistic," saying, "It's not an accurate analysis at all."

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